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Digital Trading Programmatic Viewability

Digital trading: Why advertisers need to think beyond viewability

By niall hogan |


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May 28, 2015 | 5 min read

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Advertisers, you’ve looked at your campaigns and increased your viewability rates by applying pre-bid targeting segments for viewability, and you’ve ensured to block for ad fraud. Congratulations! Your digital ad spend will already be more effective.

However, even a campaign with excellent viewability can be compromised by problems, such as unsavoury images, numerous ad units and inappropriate content. To run the most effective campaigns, advertisers and their agencies need to think beyond viewability and address the following issues as well.

Is the page safe for your brand?

Imagine this, you are planning to promote your summer, swimwear collection. You rest easy at night knowing the campaign parameters set ensure for premium, quality placement, such as, for your luxury line. The viewability rates are excellent. There’s one major problem—the ads end up running alongside an article titled, 'Don’t be a Prune: Sun, Skin and Wrinkles' – will this inspire the reader to buy a bikini? Probably not.

Surrounding context matters. If it is misaligned to a brand’s image, then both the campaign and brand’s reputation can suffer. The risk of ad misplacement is higher when buying impressions on exchanges and networks, where an estimated 13.7 per cent of placements could be adjacent to damaging content, such as adult themes, bad language or illegal downloads.

Ensuring a brand safe environment for online advertising requires a nuanced approach. An environment that is considered ‘unsafe’ for one brand might be ideal for another. A wholesome baby food brand will not want its ads on a page about craft beer but a retailer that sells clothing, like novelty t-shirts, certainly will!

Ads, ads Everywhere

An ad can be deemed viewable, but how effective is it if surrounded by a dozen others? A website crammed with too many adverts can damage both the user’s experience and the ad’s ability to stand out.

We’ve all done it; when browsing on your favourite news site, you scroll to the bottom and see a link to, 'Top 10 Celebrity Disasters', cautiously you look over your shoulder; no one is around to see you; you click to satiate your curiosity. The problem is, the page is so packed with ads that the browser slows to a crawl and it interrupts the flow of what you wanted to read. The slowly rendering slideshow of catastrophes is not worth the increasing wait. After a few seconds – long enough for ads to be registered as viewable – click – you close the window.

The ad is fraud free. It’s technically viewable. And so too are those twelve other ads which were on the page. Too many ads and a cumbersome page is an ineffective placement for any advertiser.

Location, location, (pretty) location

Whether the real estate is bricks-and-mortar or digital, good location is critical. In digital advertising, not all placements are created equal. To ensure campaigns are most effective, advertisers should monitor placement in addition to viewability. A video ad that plays in a side banner is less noticeable than one that appears front and centre.

However, a good placement also depends on the page design. An unattractive site might be less effective, especially when advertising is clumsy. For most brands, a premier placement on a poor quality page could potentially damage the brand image, as a viewer may judge a brand as guilty by association.

It’s more than meets the eye

The recent focus on viewability and non-human activity is helping raise awareness to ensure digital advertising spend is not wasted. These key issues are today a focus for trade bodies such as the IAB and ABC. They are providing industry-recognised verification standards and accreditation that assure advertisers that they are receiving transparency and control over the quality of their digital ad campaigns

However, it takes more than viewability to make an impact on consumers. With all the effort that goes into the creative process and selecting the right audience, ensuring the ads run on quality media is vital to a successful campaign. Advertisers should fully consider every element of online media quality when planning a campaign.

Niall Hogan is UK managing director at Integral Ad Science

Digital Trading Programmatic Viewability

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